09/17/97 - 11:48 PM ET - Click reload often for latest version

Huang made pitch for cash, says witness

WASHINGTON - A former Republican White House staffer insisted Tuesday that Democratic fund-raiser John Huang made a blatant pitch for money at a White House coffee that he attended with the president and two business executives from Thailand.

Karl Jackson, president of the U.S.-Thailand Business Council, told a Senate hearing his recollection is "absolutely firm," even though other guests at the coffee, including Democratic Party officials, did not recall Huang's remarks.

Testifying before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, Jackson quoted Huang as saying "elections cost lots of money. I'm sure every person in the room will want to support the re-election of President Clinton."

Jackson, who worked in the Bush White House, said his reaction afterwards was "disbelief, tinged with a bit of anger." He said his disbelief was "someone mentioning money in the White House in a meeting with foreign businessmen" in front of the president.

"This was simply breaking all the rules," Jackson said, adding, "if I had known about them (Huang's remarks) I never would have gone to the coffee."

When Democrats at the hearing on campaign finance abuse started reading statements of others at the June 18, 1996, coffee, failing to recollect the same remarks by Huang, Jackson firmly said: "I am absolutely firm ... and I realize I'm under oath."

However Beth Dozoretz, who raised some $2 million for the Democrats, said she never heard the appeal at the coffee and contended she would have remembered it.

Dozoretz told committee staffers she would have considered such remarks an unwarranted money-raising pitch to an American couple she brought to the coffee. That couple already had made Democratic contributions.

Jackson was national security adviser to former Vice President Dan Quayle and attended the coffee as an official of the U.S.-Thailand Business Council. He currently is president of the business group and director of the Southeast Asia Program at Johns Hopkins University.

Pauline Kanchanalak, an Asian-American business consultant, arranged for two top officials of a Thai conglomerate - the C.P. group - to attend. As foreign businessmen, they were not eligible to make political donations.

The day after the coffee Kanchanalak, who has refused cooperation with the committee, contributed $85,000 to the Democrats. Four days later, her business partner gave another $50,000.

Jackson said he was concerned about Huang's comments because the major guests were businessmen who weren't eligible to make political donations.

By The Associated Press

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